1 June, 2017 - 10:49 By Tony Quested

Cambridge role in new Apple Siri speaker?

We may find out next week exactly why Apple was minded to pay up to $100 million for Cambridge speech recognition technology startup VocalIQ in October 2015 – a deal it is fair to say that stunned most hard-wired market watchers.

Online and print technology media across the planet are forecasting that at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which starts in San Jose on June 5, Apple will unveil a Siri-powered home speaker among a suite of new cutting edge products.

VocalIQ was acquired to help Apple catch up Amazon, which also leveraged Cambridge IP in the speech recognition stakes to develop Amazon Echo. Amazon bought Evi (formerly True Knowledge) in 2012 and used it to fashion the Echo product which left Siri in its wake.

With 19 months of VocalIQ technology in its locker at its new base in Cambridge, it is thought that Apple has fashioned a real commercial winner with the new Siri speaker. Cambridge may have a second claim to fame in this play, of course, as Cambridge University dontrepreneur Professor Steve Young also works on the Siri development team.

Tech insiders believe the new speaker will use the Siri voice assistant, bolstered by VocalIQ’s capabilities in the field.

While Apple is one of the most secretive innovators on the planet, the technology media is leaking that the new Siri speaker will hit the ground running with top-of-the-range sound and mic technology and even facial recognition.

It is believed that key employees have been testing the technology in extensive trials.

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